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Inmates Create Works of Art

by cherylca last modified Jul 07, 2015 02:26 PM
The Norton Telegram recently published a story about inmates at Norton Correctional Facility who make quilts for those in need. Last year, inmates made 300 quilts that were donated to charity.
Inmates Create Works of Art

NCF staff Terry Petrie, public information officer, and Kollean Stewart, administrative assistant, display one of the inmate-made quilts.

By Mike Stephens
Reporter, The Norton Telegram

The Norton Correctional Facility has established a unique program for its inmates, quilt-making. The idea came from an inmate who was transferred to Norton from the Stockton Correctional Facility.

Laundry manager Elaine Schukman and laundry supervisor Sandy Brown created the program in 2008, because they thought it would be a great way to teach the inmates a skill and keep them occupied, rather than standing around.

“I wanted something for them to do,” said Schukman. 

Deputy Warden Joel Hrabe has been very supportive of the quilting pro­gram, according to Schukman, and pur­chased their first sewing machine off the Internet to get the program started. 

“Next to no money goes into it,” said Schukman. “We use discarded clothing from inmates and then we started ask­ing the public for donations.” 

Last year, the inmates at the Facility made 300 quilts, countless book bags and aprons for the inmates who work in the kitchen, according to Schukman.

The prison donates the quilts to the Or­phan Grain Train, or anyone in need.

“If we can give back to the public in a positive way, we do it,” said public in­formation officer Terry Petrie. 

Schukman said most of the inmates that participate in the quilting program have no previous experience and had never sat in front of a sewing machine before. There are usually six to eight inmates involved in the quilting pro­gram, according to Schukman.

“We teach them simple to complex quilt-making,” said Schukman. “It teaches them a skill, how to hem pants or repair clothes.” Added Petrie, “We want to make sure the inmates become produc­tive citizens and I would like to see the quilting program grow.” 

Unfortunately, their equipment is old and breaking down. Schukman said the program is in need of new sewing ma­chines,updated equipment and cloth­ing donations.

The prison can’t sell the quilts the inmates make to raise funds because it creates an accounting issue, according to Petrie. So the program has to rely on donations. He believes the quilt program is very positive for the inmates and the community, “and the quilt program could spread to other prisons,” said Petrie. 

Schukman said that quilt making gives the inmates a sense of purpose.

“It gives the inmates enthusiasm when they know it’s going for a good cause. When they get thank you notes they just beam; they feel productive.”

The inmates quilts have even been displayed at the Norton County Fair and the Norton Public Library, and Schukman said they would be open to doing displays at other locations as well.  Donating the quilts “gives people a better view of the inmates because they’re giving back to people,” said Schukman.

“It’s also a positive reflection on the prison.” 

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